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Maimane's plan to address economic inequality

May 18 2015 13:44
Genevieve Quintal

Johannesburg - Newly elected DA leader Mmusi Maimane mapped out four areas he thinks government needs to focus on to address economic inequality in the country, after accusing the ruling ANC of not caring about the people.

Maimane was speaking at a American Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Sandton on Monday.

Infrastructure

"If South Africa is going to achieve the investor confidence that we need we must invest in economic infrastructure that South Africans can depend on and they will be able to build their business on the back of," he said.

The starting point was in Gauteng with e-tolls.

Maimane said he was fascinated when the ANC marched against Eskom recently, which he called "the irony of all ironies" questioning how an organisation marched against itself.

"Here is the thing that will fascinate me even more. I'm still wondering whether they are going to march against e-tolls when South Africans refuse to pay for e-tolls.

"I want to be crystal clear here today, e-tolls will, like Eskom, create a stranglehold on our economy. Nobody doubts that we must build road infrastructure which is world class but to triple tax South Africans through that is quite frankly a crime and is something which will not be sustainable," he said.

This was a policy difficulty the ANC was faced with.

Maimane also bemoaned Eskom and the continuous load shedding.

"Eskom may give a few of us a candle lit dinner from time to time but is in fact holding South Africa's economy hostage.

"This monopolised control of the energy is outdated, unworkable and certainly not delivering on the economic outcomes of this country.

"If we are really going to address the supply of energy into our economy we must allow for Eskom to face competition," he said.

Maimane said he did not believe Eskom should be privatised but Eskom had to be allowed to manage the build programme and have the grid taken away from it.

If that was done new players would be able to enter the market.

"If we don't allow that competition to take place, Eskom will continue to hold us ransom."

He said the fact that the ANC had an interest in the building of power stations, such as Medupi and Kusile, through its investment arm, Chancellor House; it was in the party's interest to have the construction go on for as long as possible.

Small businesses

Rather than talking about big business and macro enterprise, South Africa's future could only be sustainable if it focused on increasing the number of small businesses.

"We cannot simply be a nation of employees, we must be a nation of employers. Rather than talking about five million jobs it's better for us to talk about one million entrepreneurs," Maimane said.

Labour relations

Maimane denied that his party was anti-union.

"I support the role of unions. I support what unions need to do in South Africa but what I don't support is unions over extending their reach.

"In certain communities you find unions such as Sadtu having the power to appoint principles. At which point do you get a teachers' union having that sort of ability?," he asked.

Youth unemployment

Maimane said he believed the ANC's  "biggest crime" was not providing equal education to everyone in South Africa.

"We cannot today be discussing an education system which is so unequal that a child who goes to Limpopo still faces the threat of falling into a pit [in the 21st century] when a child who goes to Waterkloof still enjoys a first class education system," he said.

The country needed to make sure it had competent teachers, well equipped classrooms and children who were frequently tested on numeracy and literacy.

da  |  anc  |  mmusi maimane  |  sa economy
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